Vintage programming: an archaeological journey into the past

How software development evolved in the last 30 years

Jan Kammerath

Playlists: 'froscon2022' videos starting here / audio

Albert Einstein's quote "If you want to know the future, look at the past." couldn't be more accurate today. Many young software engineers and graduates today were born in the early 2000s and only know the struggles of early software engineering from their older colleagues, the vintage computing community or abandoned books. Further, many developers from the early 90s are retiring now and there is a danger of losing important knowledge.

In my presentation we will travel back 30 years and look at how software was built from 1990 to 2020. Not in theory, but with practical examples including screenshots and actual production code from the era.

[1991] "Apps" ;) for Windows 3.11 with Visual Basic 2.0
[1996] The first baby steps in "Web development"
[1997] "Mobile Apps" with C++ and PalmOS
[1999] Writing code for the last MacOS (Version 9)
[2000] Arrival of the HTML coder ;) Web development goes mainstream
[2002] C# for Windows & Windows Mobile "App development"
[2003] C++ on Linux: building everything imaginable
[2005] Apache, PHP, MySQL becomes mainstream
[2008] Birth of "The Cloud": Developing with Google App Engine
[2010] "Mobile Apps" for everyone! Building on iOS, Android & Blackberry
[2012] The great merge conflict: Git sends SVN, CVS & HG to the history books
[2015] Cloud & Software-as-a-Service: Goodbye InstallShield Wizard
[2018] Serverless & Infrastructure-as-Code: Goodbye operating system
[2020] JavaScript! How did you even survive 25 years?

Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride while we fire up the flux capacitor to look at 30 years of software development and archeologically explore software history.

I have experienced much of the software development history myself or through my father who built software from the 80s to the 90s. Given the time, the presentation will not go into every detail but give a glimpse and an immersion into the yesteryear of software development. It is supposed to be an insight into people interested in software development and history as well as those who might be interested to discover more about vintage computing, especially programming. While vintage computing is becoming more and more popular, vintage programming is still in it's infancy.